The Winter Hexagon asterism
The Winter Hexagon – aka the Winter Circle – is a group of among the brightest stars within the Northern Hemisphere’s winter sky (Southern Hemisphere’s summer season sky). To make clear, the Winter Hexagon isn’t a constellation. It’s an asterism, or outstanding group of stars that kind a noticeable sample. As well as, the Winter Hexagon has a smaller asterism inside it, referred to as the Winter Triangle.
The Winter Hexagon is massive! It’s made from six 1st-magnitude stars from six completely different constellations: Rigel in Orion the Hunter, Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull, Capella in Auriga the Charioteer, Pollux in Gemini the Twins, Procyon in Canis Minor the Lesser Dog and Sirius in Canis Major the Greater Dog. Additionally, an extra 1st-magnitude star, Betelgeuse in Orion the Hunter, lies towards the middle of the Hexagon.
When is the Winter Hexagon (or Circle) seen?
Like all stars, these within the Winter Hexagon rise and set some 4 minutes earlier with every passing evening. Certainly, by late January, the Winter Hexagon may have risen excessive sufficient above the northeastern horizon so it’s seen by about 7 p.m. native time. Then, if you happen to go searching midnight, the Winter Hexagon will probably be excessive above the southern horizon. And later, after about 3 a.m. native time, it sinks towards the southwestern horizon, with a few of it setting within the west earlier than dawn.
Then, in late February and early March, the Winter Hexagon is in your southern sky at dusk and early night.
Discovering the Winter Hexagon
First, to seek out the Winter Hexagon or Circle, discover the simply recognizable constellation of Orion the Hunter. Certainly, its three belt stars give it away. Then, search for the brilliant bluish star to the decrease proper. This star is Rigel, the southwest nook of the Winter Circle and the primary of the six stars within the Hexagon. Rigel is the brightest star in Orion and the seventh brightest star within the evening sky.
Now draw a line by way of Orion’s Belt stars upward to seek out Aldebaran, the ruddy eye of Taurus the Bull. Aldebaran is the second star within the Hexagon and the brightest star in Taurus. By the best way, Aldebaran is the fourteenth brightest star within the sky.
Subsequent, proceed upward in a counterclockwise route to seek out the subsequent shiny star, Capella in Auriga the Charioteer. Capella is the third star on our journey and the northernmost level of the Winter Hexagon. Actually, Capella is the sixth brightest star within the heavens.
Finishing the Hexagon
Then, as we begin to wind down the opposite facet of the hexagon, we run into two shiny stars, the Twins Stars in Gemini the Twins. Pollux, the brighter of the 2, is our fourth nook within the hexagon, and also you’ll discover its “twin,” Castor, is only a bit fainter. Pollux is the sky’s seventeenth brightest star, and Castor is the twenty fourth.
Our second-to-last cease across the Winter Hexagon is the brilliant star beneath the Twins Stars, Procyon. Procyon is the brightest star in Canis Minor the Lesser Canine, and in reality certainly one of solely two named stars within the constellation. For such a “minor” constellation, Procyon shines brilliantly because the seventh brightest star within the sky.
Lastly, we come right down to the southernmost star within the Winter Hexagon and the brightest of all of them: Sirius in Canis Main the Higher Canine. Sirius is the brightest star within the Winter Hexagon and in your complete evening sky. Actually, solely the moon and a few planets can outshine Sirius.
Discovering the Winter Triangle
After you’ve discovered the Winter Hexagon, look inside it to seek out one other asterism. It’s the Winter Triangle. First, take the final two stars of the Hexagon, Sirius and Procyon, then head towards the middle of the Hexagon. That’s the place you’ll discover reddish star Betelgeuse, marking the shoulder of Orion. Betelgeuse makes the third nook of the Winter Triangle. Betelgeuse is the tenth brightest star within the sky and second brightest star in Orion.
The Hexagon is massive and accommodates areas of the Milky Manner
Moreover, to get an concept of the Hexagon’s humongous dimension, the span from the southernmost star, Sirius, to the northernmost star, Capella, covers about 1/3 of the dome of the sky.
Then for a bonus, on a dark and clear moonless evening, you possibly can see the soft-glowing river of stars that we name the Milky Manner meandering proper by way of the middle of the Winter Hexagon.
Backside line: The Winter Hexagon is a huge form made out of among the brightest stars within the sky, together with Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Pollux, Procyon and Sirius.